Comics On TV

WandaVision First Episodes Set Up the Mystery of Who's Behind The Sitcom World These Avengers Now Inhabit

As the mystery unfolds, we keep in mind the big questions: "How does the series fit into Phase 4 of the MCU?" and "What does this mean for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?"

by | January 15, 2021 | Comments

Marvel Studios gave their fans an extra treat for the debut of its first weekly television series, WandaVision: two full episodes! There may be a reason for this decision buried in the plot, or it may just have to do with the first two episodes being in black & white, but it also means getting a better sense of the series as the second episode begins a tonal shift from the premiere.

Of course, that tonal shift seems to be a big part of the story as WandaVision both has a point its trying to get to with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and honor family sitcoms across the history of television.

Keeping in mind the death of Vision (Paul Bettany) in Avengers: Infinity War, Wanda’s heroics in Avengers: Endgame, and the fact that she will be integral to upcoming film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, let’s dive into what we’ve seen of the series so far and discover what we can about the mystery at its core and how it fits within Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Spoiler Alert: The following reveals details about the first two episodes of WandaVision. Stop reading here if you have not watched the episodes.


WandaVision Sets Its Action in an Early Sitcom-Styled Idyllic World

Newly married Wanda and Vision arrive in the community of Westview, and settle in. Like wacky sitcoms of the late ’50s and early ’60s, they have secrets they need to keep from their neighbors: Wanda is telekinetic and Vision is a synthoid. Not that those facts stop them from integrating into Westview life. Vision already has a job at a computing firm and Wanda has a dream kitchen. There issues to be addressed, of course.

The remainder of episode one introduces next door neighbor Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) and Vision’s boss, Mr. Hart (Fred Melamed) and his wife (Debra Jo Rupp). The couple questions their own oddities, but generally accept their reality.

Meanwhile, somewhere outside of Westview, the events of the WandaVision pilot are observed.

In episode 2, Wanda and Vision prepare for their magic act in the Westview talent show and their day’s errands. Vision wants to meet with the neighborhood watch while Wanda is off to meet with the local women’s club.

The episode introduces the neighborhood watch — little more than an excuse for the men to gossip — including Herb (David Payton). At the women’s club, Wanda meets Dottie (Emma Caulfield Ford) and Geraldine (Teyonah Parris). After Wanda and Dottie have a heated moment, a nearby radio switches from the Beach Boys’ “Help Me, Rhonda” to a voice directly asking Wanda if he can hear him.

Celebrating their magic show success, the pair return home and, quite suddenly, Wanda is pregnant. Hearing a ruckus, the two Avengers notice a beekeeper (with that sword logo on his uniform) emerging from a manhole cover in the street. Wanda finds this unacceptable and rewinds events to just a few moments before. In the safety of their house, Vision reassures her, and the world turns to color. As their sitcom world closes with “The End” and a “Please stand by” graphic, an urgent voice comes on: “Wanda? Who’s doing this to you, Wanda? Wanda?


How the Series Pays Tribute to Classic TV As It Unravels a Deeper Marvel Mystery

The series is plastered in references to television history. Episode 1 takes many of its cues from shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, and Leave It to Beaver. The most direct comparisons come from Dick Van Dyke with the kitchen looking like a near replica of the one Mary Tyler Moore ruled on that sitcom. The plot of the episode — mistaken communication leading to trouble with Vision’s boss — has the feel of something you might see on any of those shows, even if Vision’s job is purposely vague both to us and himself.

Curiously enough, an attempt was made to use vintage production techniques to give the episode more of an authentic late-1950s feel. It works really well and underscores the moment when Wanda and Vision are confronted by their imprecise memories. Once Mr. Hart starts choking on his dinner, the ’50s lightning, compositions, and editing disappear until Wanda finally tells Vision to help his boss.

It is worth pointing out as that same breaking of sitcom reality is not replicated in episode 2, which takes a very pointed amount of inspiration from Bewitched. The animated credit sequence directly emulates the classic TV sitcom and the set has been realigned to resemble that show’s continuous first-floor locales, particularly the kitchen. Running from 1964 to 1972, Bewitched told the tale of Samantha Stevens, a witch by birth, and her buttoned-down husband Darren. Despite wanting to make it in the world by his own talents, Sam cannot help but use her powers to solve some of their problems. The parallels are obvious, even if the episode’s actual plot feels less like Bewitched and something more tailored to Wanda and Vision’s circumstances, which may be why the humor feels fresher than in the first episode.

Also, since we noticed how well the first episode replicated the feel of 1950s sitcoms, episode 2 does an interesting job replicating the look of Bewitched, which began its life in black & white and was known to use location filming in its early run. The style is evident here, although the film look of Bewitched is not carried over thanks to modern digital videotape cameras and the frame-rate change the new technology brought with it. This is especially true in the location shots, although it could be argued those more modern-looking scenes underscore Wanda real circumstances.


What We Know About WandaVision′s Mystery So Far

Which brings us to the series’ apparent key mystery: Is all of this Wanda’s doing? Her ability to literally rewind events in episode 2 — and her flat rejection of the beekeeper — suggests she is behind all of this. (Though Marvel comic book readers may recall what the logo stands for, we’ll avoid spoilers and let the series reveal the answer.) But the message on Dottie’s radio also offers the option that someone may be inducing all of this. If the latter is true, what could be the end goal of sticking Wanda in a sitcom reality? The refrain “for the children” offers one unsettling possibility.

Meanwhile, the desperation to fit in, the careful edits of Vision’s persona to make a more stereotypical TV husband, and the way she often runs out of answers stand as credible evidence that, perhaps, she did all of this on a whim to finally process her grief. It almost makes you wonder if the day Vision died is August 23.

That also leads to another interesting question: who are the citizens of Westview? In the first episode, they seem to be part of the illusion. But the personalities of Herb and Dottie in episode 2 suggests Westview is a real place with real people. Are they being co-opted to function in Wanda’s vision or are they also dead people she (or the outside force control this) is reviving to better create this idealized suburban life?

One other option: the townsfolk are the outside putting pressure on Wanda to live this dream life, even if the real facts about her relationship with Vision means he is the grandest illusion of all. OK, maybe it is the baby — that, of course, remains to be seen.

Also, while we’re asking questions, we have to consider the people in the commercials. The none-too-subtle references to Stark and Strucker are funny, but also a clear invasion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into Westview. Are they part of this or just another manifestation of whatever is happening to Wanda?

New episodes of WandaVision premiere on Fridays on Disney+.


On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

Bravo Spike Rom-Com DirecTV latino new star wars movies Paramount binge Cannes facebook Horror quibi Elton John BET Awards australia New York Comic Con docuseries RT21 NBA Emmy Nominations First Look science fiction nature movies crime godzilla Sundance Apple TV+ Anna Paquin Super Bowl Travel Channel TIFF Captain marvel new zealand free movies harry potter Peacock monster movies french 24 frames Turner ghosts Film Festival political drama miniseries Heroines Apple wonder woman Best and Worst suspense 73rd Emmy Awards Netflix Christmas movies true crime halloween venice scary movies Trailer Extras Black History Month TV renewals live action Mary Poppins Returns halloween tv Year in Review international psychological thriller Infographic Certified Fresh SDCC Adult Swim Schedule ABC Family TCA Awards 72 Emmy Awards social media crime thriller crime drama travel HBO Go gangster RT History politics black screen actors guild Stephen King FX on Hulu women revenge Action telelvision PBS dragons Paramount Plus talk show Spring TV Logo The CW Chernobyl X-Men zombie award winner biography 21st Century Fox YouTube Premium 93rd Oscars stand-up comedy USA docudrama doctor who boxing Character Guide zero dark thirty blockbuster Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Alien transformers SundanceTV Pop TV anime superhero IFC Films 2017 Showtime stoner adventure Endgame marvel comics screenings First Reviews Countdown theme song Hallmark technology E3 book Amazon Prime Video basketball 2016 independent Country 2020 serial killer razzies indie adenture ID comic books aliens best 45 Fantasy pirates of the caribbean mcc Sci-Fi Classic Film Discovery Channel TBS breaking bad BET tv talk Tumblr comics rt labs Mystery Comedy 90s dramedy 20th Century Fox Interview Comic-Con@Home 2021 Fox News Toys Martial Arts Starz Rock movie TCM Pirates Pacific Islander 2018 Summer BAFTA 2015 007 directors Women's History Month Acorn TV comic President TLC MTV Brie Larson 1990s Grammys Writers Guild of America Freeform richard e. Grant Black Mirror all-time universal monsters rt labs critics edition Hear Us Out justice league Sneak Peek Lifetime what to watch Tubi Television Critics Association sports Academy Awards strong female leads Photos Musical Opinion Box Office natural history Rocketman chucky Arrowverse period drama casting aapi batman italian Valentine's Day lord of the rings CBS All Access The Arrangement WarnerMedia Warner Bros. Lucasfilm Thanksgiving Superheroes Star Wars kids DC Comics Television Academy OWN robots Rocky fast and furious mockumentary new york History Avengers Song of Ice and Fire spanish language Amazon American Society of Cinematographers Election Food Network Disney+ Disney Plus foreign ABC CBS Exclusive Video romantic comedy LGBTQ anthology Set visit laika Animation emmy awards YouTube Red Sony Pictures book adaptation Broadway criterion comiccon DC streaming service trailers Holiday jamie lee curtis documentaries Fox Searchlight rt archives space Premiere Dates japan crossover Syfy sag awards mutant APB nbcuniversal werewolf CNN DC Universe toronto Pet Sematary vampires know your critic Oscars concert Marvel Television royal family 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Turner Classic Movies Tokyo Olympics TruTV disaster documentary Netflix FOX MCU DGA Baby Yoda Spectrum Originals VOD scorecard SXSW ratings rotten movies we love feel good Epix Video Games Nat Geo discovery hidden camera hist Pixar Chilling Adventures of Sabrina YA scene in color toy story king arthur dogs Pride Month Esquire critic resources prank streaming movies Western Hallmark Christmas movies james bond Vudu Mary Tyler Moore GLAAD legend 2021 hollywood Mindy Kaling singing competition child's play NYCC asian-american satire LGBT Ellie Kemper comic book movies news A24 ABC Signature Trivia romance Quiz worst golden globe awards Fall TV a nightmare on elm street Walt Disney Pictures cops Crackle unscripted OneApp Holidays cancelled TV series comic book movie Hulu The Walt Disney Company Shondaland Winners Christmas deadpool Disney streaming service blockbusters adaptation die hard worst movies debate 71st Emmy Awards TCA Winter 2020 parents Creative Arts Emmys mission: impossible Kids & Family spider-man FX target Legendary japanese golden globes Masterpiece action-comedy supernatural Music dceu streaming Image Comics cancelled television YouTube television remakes ITV Awards Tour saw films Teen Lionsgate The Purge cancelled TV shows TCA 2017 critics Britbox teaser cooking NBC Trophy Talk boxoffice Reality joker animated Ghostbusters USA Network posters Binge Guide Awards spanish CMT Comedy Central cats finale canceled TV shows superman cancelled TV movies sequel heist movie war GIFs GoT thriller A&E Shudder franchise Mudbound Musicals PaleyFest king kong reviews National Geographic spy thriller Pop archives Family See It Skip It festival Sundance TV Disney Plus Biopics popular WGN christmas movies cinemax olympics jurassic park witnail versus renewed TV shows elevated horror TV One Dark Horse Comics Nickelodeon AMC Calendar Disney Lifetime Christmas movies Crunchyroll sitcom Podcast IFC stop motion dc video Drama comedies ESPN Emmys hispanic indiana jones HBO Comics on TV slasher children's TV dark Reality Competition CW Seed composers hispanic heritage month Film ViacomCBS rom-coms The Witch based on movie series 99% kong classics Sundance Now game of thrones Comic Book police drama Tomatazos The Walking Dead Wes Anderson Columbia Pictures Marvel spain HBO Max green book festivals historical drama Winter TV El Rey game show Amazon Prime cars young adult Ovation zombies name the review 4/20 Cartoon Network reboot rotten VICE dexter TNT The Academy high school sequels Disney Channel twilight Funimation obituary Marvel Studios blaxploitation BBC One MSNBC fresh Watching Series kaiju Marathons south america 2019 Red Carpet Polls and Games Amazon Studios FXX Star Trek TV biopic nfl Universal TV Land football Paramount Network San Diego Comic-Con slashers TCA E! video on demand Mary poppins cults Nominations Superheroe spinoff Tarantino medical drama canceled cartoon BBC America marvel cinematic universe VH1 diversity Cosplay psycho PlayStation BBC Apple TV Plus